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Crockett & Jones Handgrade Rosemoor - renovation and review

I've mentioned the Crockett & Jones Handgrade collection pretty frequently in the past. It's a collection that distinguishes itself with better-fitted, asymmetric lasts and a better leather quality than the C&J main collections. They offer some of the better quality to value British-made shoes.

I picked up this now discontinued Rosemoor pair from a charity shop for a good price. They were in a pretty tired condition, with dry-looking leather, a lot of scuffs, and an overall drab appearance to the uppers. The images below are a quick step-by-step of basic restoration for pairs like this.

Quick cleaning process

First thing was to remove the laces, and apply Saphir Renomat.

Renomat is used to strip away the established polish and gunk that has built up over the years. It's pretty simple to apply - apply to a rag, then rub all over the uppers. Leave them to dry out. Apply again if the shoes still seem to have a lot of residue on them.

Next I applied Saphir Renovateur. As the name suggests, this helps to nourish and renovate the leather. I applied two coats, letting it really absorb before applying the second. You can see the difference pretty starkly here - the shoes really were very dried out.

After this I applied some coloured shoe cream in a shade that was similar to the original leather. This cream also has the effect of nourishing dried-out leather, but I did also want to get a bit of extra colour into the relatively muted existing shade. This cream is then buffed out. Saphir Creme has a slight polishing effect as well as conditioning, so you will start to see some shine emerge at the toes.

Finally I applied a darker wax polish at the toes and heels. This was enough to bring out a bit of a shine, but this would need a bit more time to reach a real mirror shine. Tan leathers like this are generally quite tricky to get a really brilliant shine on.

Laces are re-inserted, and these are pretty much good to go!

And lastly, the same pair but with some slightly nicer lighting - always worth investing in some better lighting for this sort of thing, and this really illustrates the difference that lighting can make to the apparent colour of the leather!

On the Handgrade collection

Reflecting on the value of Handgrade models, they operate in a price point that is otherwise somewhat sparsely populated for British makers, sitting between the C&J mainline (£400-ish) and Edward Green / John Lobb (£1000-ish). Most of the current Handgrade models are about £600 - £700 at RRP. This is a punchy price point admittedly, but I think about right for the overall quality of shoe on offer,

This Rosemoor Oxford isn't currently available as part of their range, and is unusual enough that it's worth a close look. It's an attractive enough shoe, but the styling is a bit confused overall and, unfortunately for me, the fit is just a bit too eccentric for them to see much wear in the future.

The uppers are a tan calf leather - a pale shade that I've frankly always had trouble integrating into outfits, but is a popular choice for pairing with dark denim or navy wedding suits. After some light conditioning and care, I think the colour is attractive enough and is at least a bit of a departure from the billion other dark brown shoes in my wardrobe.

The toe is noticeably sharp thanks to the 358 last, with a tastefully done medallion. The overall elongation of the toe is a bit excessive for my tastes, and makes these a really long pair of shoes given they are sized UK 9.5. Consider their overall length compared to these other pairs:

The Edward Green Chelsea on the left are 31cm long at the outsole; the Crockett & Jones Audley in the middle are 31.5cm; the Crockett & Jones Rosemoor on the far right are 32.3cm long.

That difference may not sound much, but consider that a shoe's outsole measurements are typically about 10% longer than your actual foot length. For instance, my 28.5cm UK 9.5 foot typically fits well into shoes about 31cm long, so about a 3cm difference. So even an added 1.3cm of length is noticeable on the foot.

Of course, shoe length (especially taken from the outsole) is a pretty poor metric of fit - how the shoe feels at the heel and instep is far more important overall. It will potentially affect where the shoe creases when walking, and has an aesthetic impact. But I think this pair operate outside the "Green Zone" of acceptable length for a decent fit.

Along the sides of the shoe are swan-neck seams, running parallel to the eyelets before curving back to the heel cup. Again, I'm torn on the effect of these - it's maybe just a bit busy in terms of how it looks. At the heel is a thistle pattern, which is quite appealing and adds a slightly unusual detail.

The soles are typically well-finished for a Handgrade shoe. Not flashy, but the slightest bevel at the waist. Handgrade shoes typically feature a channeled stitch around the edge, which has worn away here to expose the sole stitching.

Incidentally, if you're ever unsure how to spot a Handgrade shoe, they use a different variation of the Crockett & Jones logo and font. The first of the images below is Handgrade; the second mainline collection.

Overall I find them a bit of a strange shoe - the toe shape and simplicity of design gives them a formal look, but the prominent protrusion of the swan-neck detail diminishes that - perhaps if that was a smaller stitched detail instead of such an obvious seam it would maintain its proportions a bit better?

The poor fit surprises me too - I've never found a pair of sized 9.5 Crockett & Jones that didn't fit me well enough, so I can only conclude the last for these is simply not a good fit for me, or that they might have been stretched by the previous owner? Regardless of how I feel about the looks of them, I have committed to not clog up my collection with shoes that don't fit well, so these are off to eBay and a new home.

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Apr 06, 2022

Even if you're not going to wear them, it's nice to have a hobby, especially if you can sell them on for a profit. When I played music, I used to have a similar hobby where I bought old instruments and taught myself how to repair/renovate them. Hint: clarinets are much easier than oboes! :-) Unfortunately, I couldn't then bring myself to sell them, though I did give some away.

My uncle is an expert on military memorabilia and used to make quite a profit doing this on Ebay both before and after retirement. I even helped him sell some old German machine-gun bullets in Italy. Obviously, the bullets were already perfectly safe with the explosive long-removed and a certifica…

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